This morning when I opened up my newspaper and started reading the front page. There was an article in regards to a regional team that is competing for the Automotive X PRIZE. Now the interesting thing here is that the article makes it seem as if this goal hasn’t been accomplished already. Granted there is no commercially available vehicle that I am aware that meets the 100 mpg standard. Unless you include electric vehicles into the mix. Although the overall range of an electric between charges is still somewhat limited. From a quick glance at the Automotive X PRIZE competition PDF file there is no mention of alternative fuels being able to compete. The State Journal Register article also states that vehicles should be using the equivalent of a single gallon of gasoline to achieve the 100 mpg goal. If the competition is strictly limited to gasoline produced vehicles I think this does a disservice to the intended goal. While usage reduction is a great goal. Eliminating the use of the non ecofriendly fuel would be a better goal. This is something that could in fact be achieved with the right resources in place.
I firmly believe that technology isn’t holding the world back in regards to driving greener. There are many other factors that have gotten in the way of improving the way we drive. At this time there is really no incentive for auto manufacturers to step up to the plate and start offering fuel efficient vehicles. To many consumers are of the mindset that they will have to give up what they want to drive a car or truck that is better for the environment. For the time being these people are right in their thought process. All most every commercially available ecofriendly vehicle requires some give and take at this point. For electrics charge times have gotten better but still are far from what consumers want. Although everyone always comes up with the figures in regards to electrics meeting the average daily travel needs of almost everyone. This never takes into account that at the moment these vehicles won’t even provide a short day trip distance without a recharge. Most consumers aren’t willing to make that type of sacrifice. Example – if I had the money I could purchase a Tesla in Chicago and not be able to fully make it home to Chatham in the middle of Illinois on one charge.
With alternative fuel vehicles you may be breaking the law in the United States depending on what you’re using. Availability of your chosen biofuel may be limited. However in almost all cases your range isn’t limited as long as you have a fuel source. Consumers don’t want to do what you have seen presenters on ecofriendly car shows do. These people don’t want to go hunt for fuel sources. Until a manufacturer can make an idiot proof vehicle that doesn’t hassle the consumer we aren’t going to see any movement towards change in regards to what you’re seeing driving down the road.
Then again your not seeing many people pushing for change. You see many people doing what they have done for years. Give lip service to the subject. Even the people who are all for the change are guilty of this. There have been to many announced projects that have never come to light for various reasons. We have seen this coming from the traditional auto makers for years now as well. The promise of the future being just a few years away. Yet when that day comes there is some excuse as to why the promise wasn’t fulfilled. With only a limited amount of the driving population upset about it the car companies can keep getting away with this.
Don’t expect much help from government regulation. We have all seen little movement in that regard. To many elected officials have their own goals when it comes to the subject of changing the status quo. You either have officials who have an interest in keeping consumers using oil. Or you have others who are afraid of job losses within their community if vehicle production makes a drastic change. And honestly I’m not even sure the environment is a big concern to those that hold elected office. This is yet another case of giving lip service and sound bites.
A company mentioned in today’s State Journal Register article is a key example of a new vehicle manufacturer that is trying to make a positive change but hasn’t fully learned from the mistakes of the past. I was actually reading about Aptera Motors just the other day. This company is producing a three wheeled airplane looking vehicle. Now supposedly it fits two people and fifteen bags of groceries. Looking at it I’m trying to figure out how that can be. But lets look past the passenger and baggage limitation. What we once again have is a alternative vehicle manufacturer trying to sell consumers a three wheeled vehicle. Yes this one supposedly has taken complaints from the past into account. Would you like to bet your average consumer would have some more complaints? Considering the fact that it is only being sold in California to start off. The vehicle isn’t considered usable in all types of climates. Or at least it hasn’t been tested at this time in cooler climates and weather conditions. On the positive side their original concept vehicle reached 230 miles per gallon. But could someone point me to a three wheeled consumer vehicle that was widely produced and accepted by everyone? I doubt you can. Because the three wheel concept has never been fully accepted by consumers. Aptera should be given credit for already meeting one of the key goals of the Automotive X PRIZE. They have a consumer vehicle that is suppose to go on sale this year in California that is a car capable of using a limited amount of fuel to achieve a great distance. However I don’t think this will be a commercially successful venture. Speed is limited to 85 miles an hour on the top end. You have three wheels and this hasn’t proven popular over many decades. The Aptera while looking cool just isn’t going to meet your every day consumers wants and needs. And no matter how much you try to influence and change the average consumer viewpoint it’s not going to work. We have seen this time and time again. Aptera Motors does get credit for coming in at a price point that is affordable for a larger segment of the population. Only a handful of alternative vehicle manufacturers can state that.